Monday, August 08, 2016

Design Thinking in Healthcare

What exactly is design thinking?  Basically, it is a problem-solving process adapted from the design field to create, develop or improve a product, service or process.  While design thinking seems logical for many industries (think of automobile design or mobile technology), its application to health care might not come so easily.

Design thinking takes the perspective of creation or improvement and applies it to services, products and experiences. Natalie Nixon, a nationally recognized leader in design thinking, outlines elements of design-thinking theory:  observe and understand, brainstorm and create, prototype and test and finally, implement.  (Nixon, 2013).

Applying this process to health care has many possibilities.  It doesn’t have to be grand but could be used to develop innovative processes to serve patients or new delivery approaches.  It could be as simple as designing walkways for aging adults to creating interactive robots to assist nurses.

If you are interested in reading more about design thinking, here are two good articles introducing the concept: 
Design Thinking by Tim Brown in the June 2008 issue of Harvard Business Review and Viewing Ascension Health from a Design Thinking Perspective by Natalie W. Nixon from the Journal of Organization Design 2(3): 22-28, 2013.  (Referenced above.)

Nixon, N.  (2013).  Viewing Ascension Health from a Design Thinking Perspective.  Journal of Organization Design 2(3):  p. 22-28.

Contributed by Dr. Becky Urbanski, Adjunct Faculty for Saint Joseph's College

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